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Merlin Bird ID

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    Black Phoebe

    Silhouette FlycatchersFlycatchers

    Black Phoebe

    Sayornis nigricans
    • ORDER: Passeriformes
    • FAMILY: Tyrannidae
    Basic Description

    The Black Phoebe is a dapper flycatcher of the western U.S. with a sooty black body and crisp white belly. They sit in the open on low perches to scan for insects, often keeping up a running series of shrill chirps. Black Phoebes use mud to build cup-shaped nests against walls, overhangs, culverts, and bridges. Look for them near any water source from small streams, to suburbs, all the way to the salt-sprayed rocks and cliffs of the Pacific Ocean.

    More ID Info
    image of range map for Black PhoebeRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

    Find This Bird

    Within their range, Black Phoebes are common and conspicuous near sources of water and around human development. They usually stay low to the ground and perch in the open, so scan low branches, rocks and shrubs along the edges of streams, lakes, estuaries, and the seashore. The bird’s distinctive tail-pumping can help you recognize it from afar. Black Phoebes very often call out with a shrill, scratchy chip.

    Other Names
    • Papamoscas Negro (Spanish)
    • Moucherolle noir (French)

    Backyard Tips

    Black Phoebes do well around humans. They don’t come to feeders, but they may use your backyard as a place to catch insects, or even build nests under eaves of a building, especially if there is water or mud nearby.

    • Cool Facts